When you are a beginner surfer, you very quickly tend to want to skip the stages. However, surfing is a complex sport and, although more and more accessible, the technique is difficult to acquire. But it’s easy to imagine yourself surfing perfect, tubular waves with a pro shortboard. But surfing that you see on social media and surfing as a beginner are vastly different. To progress well in surfing and not to develop faults, it is important not to make these 5 beginner surfer mistakes.
1. Underestimate the conditions
This is one of the most dangerous mistakes for a beginner surfer. Underestimating the conditions can be dangerous for the beginner as well as for other surfers in the water. Therefore, it is important to observe the spot and the waves carefully before entering the water. Are there people in the water? If so, are there beginner surfers? Is there current or any other potential danger? Asking yourself the right questions before getting in the water is essential so as not to put yourself in danger and get tired of the surf.
In the event that the waves are too big, there is surely a fallback spot near you that will be more accessible. A fallback spot is a spot that is less exposed to swell than the main spots. In case of strong swells, they offer smaller waves and generally cleaner than on other spots. However, you have to be wary because these spots are generally very crowded.
In short, the novice surfer should not be presumptuous and should always show a certain humility in front of the ocean. Indeed, it is a dangerous element that no one really controls. If the waves are too big, it is better to postpone your session or find a quieter place so as not to put yourself in danger.
2. Choose a board that is too small
Once again, just because all professional surfers ride shortboards do n’t mean that this type of board is suitable for everyone. While shortboards are ultra light, responsive and very manoeuvrable boards, they are reserved for intermediate to advanced level surfers. Indeed, their low volume makes them difficult to take-off and row. However, a beginner surfer needs significant buoyancy and stability to begin to understand the glide and the waves. The choice of the board is therefore very important to start properly and must be done gradually.
How to choose your board when you are a beginner surfer?
In case the surfer has just learned to stand up on a board, it is better to choose a foam board . Softboards are boards with a large volume that facilitate take-off and are easy to row. Their foam construction helps prevent accidents in the event of an impact with the board as well as their flexible FCS fins which prevent cuts. With a foam board, the beginner surfer will be able to handle his first foams and first waves calmly without risking injury.
Once comfortable in small waves, the beginner surfer can switch to an epoxy or Shockproof board by reducing the volume a little if desired. The more his level progresses, the more he can choose a board with a low volume until he arrives at shortboards or fish that will allow him to perform more radical maneuvers such as rollerblades, carves, etc.
3. Not knowing the priority rules
Nothing could be worse than having a wave steered by another surfer. In surfing, there are priority rules which are necessary to guarantee a good atmosphere in the water and maximum safety. The rules of priority are simple: the first standing on the wave has priority. In the event that 2 surfers row at the same time for a wave, the surfer closest to the peak (furthest inside the wave) has the right to surf it.
As a beginner, you should definitely keep these rules in mind. Indeed, some experienced surfers are sometimes not very tolerant with beginners when they bother them. Not to mention the risk of injury and collision between 2 surfers which can be dramatic. It is therefore important to take a good look to each side before setting off on a wave.
4. Let go of your board to pass the waves
Another element that can be very dangerous that novice surfers tend to do: drop your board to dive under the waves. In addition to the fact that there is a risk of damaging his equipment, the beginner risks hitting another surfer or a swimmer around him. We then reach point number 1: if the conditions are too rough, it is better to change the spot or not get in the water.
In all cases, the surfer must remain in control of his equipment. While letting go of your board to dive under the waves and reach the line-up faster is tempting, it’s better to get shaken than risk injuring someone. However, there are times when you won’t necessarily have a choice. In this case try all the same to check that no one is behind you. Also try to hold your board by the leash as much as possible.
5. Do not inquire about the spot before entering the water
Just because there are waves somewhere doesn’t mean you have to get in the water. It is mandatory to find out about the spot before going surfing. Indeed, each surf spot has its peculiarities. Thus, some spots will work more at high tide, others at low tide or even with a minimum tide coefficient. The direction of the wind is also taken into account. For perfect conditions, you need a light offshore wind (from land). The beginner surfer must therefore inquire in order to be able to surf in the best conditions.
How to know the characteristics of a surf spot?
There are many platforms dedicated to wave forecasts and their referencing. On these, the beginner can find all the necessary information:
- Wind direction & force
- Type of spot (beach-break, reef-break, point-break, etc.)
- Swell size and period
- Wave size
- Spot population